Each week in Imperial Beach residents are putting out their blue recycling bins and thieves are stealing their aluminum cans and other beverage containers.
Before the Edco garbage trucks arrive, many bins are picked clean by people who take the bottles and cans to a recycling center.
Cindy Horned, director of customer service for Edco, said via email “This is an ongoing issue throughout San Diego County. Sometimes the police will respond if there is no emergency situation happening as this is an offense or you can call for advice. We will also attempt to send our route supervisor to help discourage the scavenging.”
Sue, who answered Edco’s customer service phone line, was less diplomatic. “As a company Edco can’t enforce the law. That’s up to the police. But these people are breaking the law by taking your stuff. It isn’t just your recyclables they're after either. You need to worry about identity theft. It’s usually the same person, at the same time, at the same place. It’s not just you either — it’s happening everywhere. Report them.”
A sheriff deputy talking to me off the record says he stops scavengers all the time. “It’s a violation of the municipal code against scavenging. I let them know it’s illegal. San Diego isn’t very strict so we tell them to go to San Diego.”
An older man who didn’t want to identify himself was collecting aluminum cans from an apartment complex dumpster and acknowledged he's been hassled by the cops for taking recycling. “Honestly, it’s all bullshit,” he said before taking another dive into the dumpster to fish out more cans.